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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 24 October, 2019

Moyes plays down plane protest following Villa victory

“I’ve been saying all the time since I’ve been here, the crowd have been great.”

Manchester United manager David Moyes salutes the fans as he leaves the pitch after his team's 4-1 win.
Manchester United manager David Moyes salutes the fans as he leaves the pitch after his team's 4-1 win.

MANCHESTER UNITED MANAGER David Moyes played down a fly-by protest against his stewardship after his side overcame Aston Villa 4-1 in the Premier League on Saturday.

An aeroplane trailing a banner calling for Moyes’s dismissal flew over Old Trafford shortly after kick-off, but he received a warm reception from fans inside the ground and said that he felt he had their full support.

“I’ve been saying all the time since I’ve been here, the crowd have been great,” Moyes told BT Sport.

“They’ve been terrific to me as well, because at times we haven’t done as well as we’d like. We didn’t start the game well today once again, but I’ve got to say that the crowd were brilliant, the way they were behind the team.”

Asked for his reaction to the round of applause he received as he walked down the touchline to the dug-out before the game, Moyes said: “I’ve always felt that that’s the way it is, I really do.

“Every supporter I bump into in the street or any dinner I go to, they’re all talking about (how) they know exactly what it’s like at Manchester United. And I’ve got to say, the crowd inside Old Trafford today showed that.”

The plane stunt, funded by a group of disgruntled United fans, is the biggest sign of open supporter dissent that Moyes has faced since succeeding Alex Ferguson last year.

In the second minute of the game on a sunny afternoon in Manchester, a small white plane was seen to fly over the stadium towing a banner that read, ‘WRONG ONE – MOYES OUT’ in giant red letters.

The protest was a response to a pro-Moyes banner, branding him ‘THE CHOSEN ONE’, that has been displayed by supporters in Old Trafford’s Stretford End since the beginning of the season.

- ‘Players support the manager’

The plane’s appearance was greeted by boos and Wayne Rooney, who scored two of United’s goals, said that the players had been unmoved by the protest.

“To be honest, we didn’t make anything of it,” he said. “We know the support the manager’s got from the players, the support which he’s been getting from the fans the last few games, and that’s what matters.

“It doesn’t matter what’s written in the newspapers or what certain people are saying, it’s what matters to us as a team.

“The support we’re getting off the fans has been incredible again today, so we just have to stay focused, keep trying to win, and we’ll be all right.”

United’s afternoon got off to a bad start when Ashley Westwood’s free-kick gave Villa a 13th-minute lead, but Rooney scored twice before half-time and further goals from Juan Mata and Javier Hernandez completed the comeback.

Moyes, 50, has endured a torrid debut campaign at United, who have fallen well off the pace in the Premier League and crashed out of both domestic cup competitions.

They went into the weekend 12 points below the Champions League places, ahead of the first leg of their quarter-final against holders Bayern Munich in this season’s competition on Tuesday.

Moyes continues to receive the backing of the club’s board, however, with director and former player Bobby Charlton declaring earlier this week: “I’m absolutely certain that we picked the right man.”

Rooney bails Moyes out after plane protest>

All the goals as United comfortably beat Villa at Old Trafford>

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